In Part 1 of this article, we discussed how to use litigation consultants to win a case when there are no budget constraints. Here in Part 2, we tackle the opposite end of the budget spectrum: how to best use litigation consultants when budget is severely constrained.
The good news is that in any case that has more than $1 million at stake or is a possible example of pattern litigation, there is a litigation consulting strategy that can fit the budget and deliver high value, regardless of budget. While every case has different needs, and there is a big difference between bench and jury trials, here is a prescription for utilizing litigation consultants in a tight budget.
The primary cost difference between a small litigation budget and a large litigation budget will be the amount of time spent on testing and varying strategic approaches to the case. In a tight budget scenario, rather than relying on feedback from mock jurors and judges to help guide which themes to emphasize and the best ways to explain elements of the case, you will likely have to rely heavily on gut instinct. Of course, that is not always a bad thing.
Looking at the three primary types of services that litigation consultants provide -- trial consulting, litigation graphics and courtroom technology support -- our general recommendation would be to spend your money where you most need to. In the majority of cases, the money is best spent on litigation graphics. A small budget generally rules out meaningful trial or jury consulting. Further, you can ask your litigation graphics firm to create your graphics primarily in PowerPoint to avoid the need for specialty trial presentation software or personnel. Here's our specific recipe of do's and don'ts on a limited budget:
- Don't conduct any formal mock trial work whether online, in person or otherwise
- Don't use courtroom technology support or hot-seat operators
- Do use the court's technology when possible
- Do split technology costs with opposing counsel when possible
- Do use your own laptop in court with a rented projector and screen if necessary
- Do bring a 2nd (backup) laptop with a copy of your presentation(s)
- Do work with highly experienced litigation graphics experts and ask their advice
- Do expect the highly experienced litigation graphics experts to provide added value by virtue of their extensive litigation graphics previous experiences
- Do provide a refined list of trial graphics you are hoping to use
- Do prioritize the trial graphics that are most important
- Don’t be afraid to hand draw a rough version of any image that you want if you feel so inclined
- Do give your graphics firm the latitude to add new graphics that they may come up with, as much as 25 percent more of them (as long as costs were discussed up front)
- Do insist on a fixed price for the work
- Do ask your client to consider an alternative fee arrangement with the graphics firm (i.e. contingencies, success fees)
- Do work with a firm that is highly recommended
- Do work with a firm that will provide ideas not just pretty pictures
- Do insist that everything be created in PowerPoint
- Do insist that all text subject to potential changes is in modifiable form versus pictures of text that requires the litigation graphic provider’s intervention for editing
- Do update your system to the latest version of PowerPoint
- Do provide high quality / high resolution documents whenever possible for the litigation artists to use
- Do prepare an outline for the litigation graphics firm to work from
By following this advice, you will almost certainly get the best results for a relatively small dollar investment.